There must be some link between sinking stocks and the need for pampering -- new salons and spas are popping up all over. Sweet Lily (222 West Broadway; 212-925-5441), which opened this month, offers only natural manicures -- no acrylics and formaldehyde-free polish (along with the traditional Essie colors). There's a honey-walnut pedicure, which starts with a warm-milk-and-almond-oil soak, followed up with a mask containing walnuts ground on the premises. There's also a cooling and soothing fresh-cucumber-and-peppermint pedicure and a hot lavender manicure, which uses a lavender-scented sugar exfoliant. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the tri-level Aesthetic Institute of New York (44 East 65th Street, Suite 1A; 212-628-6464), a combination spa and facial plastic-surgery center, which features facials and massages with a garden view, as well as lasers and even face-lifts.
With New York's six degrees of separation, it's only a matter of time before you encounter someone you know in a beauty salon -- just as you're getting foil put in your hair. But personal beauty maintenance doesn't have to be available for public viewing. Several places have private rooms in which you can straighten, color, and highlight to your heart's content, away from the inquisitive eyes of everyone but your stylist. Paul Labrecque Salon & Spa (171 East 65th Street; 212-988-7816) has a frosted-glass-enclosed, mirrored enclave, complete with coloring and straightening facilities. At Julien Farel (605 Madison Avenue, near 57th Street; 212-888-8988), the room is outfitted with recessed lights, computers for Internet access, and a shampoo chair with a massage unit. Rodolfo Valentin (1020 Madison Avenue, near 78th Street, third floor; 212-327-4227) offers a little oasis with piped-in music that overlooks the boutiques of Madison. And at Salon À Deux (1117 Madison Avenue, near 83rd Street; 212-628-7505), on Saturdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas they throw in complimentary champagne and caviar. Best of all? The privacy comes at no extra charge. But be advised, you must reserve ahead, particularly during holiday season. According to Julien Farel manager Jimmy Vanegas, "These rooms tend to be booked up with VIPs or men embarrassed to get their hair dyed in front of women."
True red lipstick may be too intense for summer or early fall, but the holiday season is just the time to get in touch with your inner vamp. There is suddenly a wealth of new reds to choose from. Estée Lauder just introduced Pure Color Gloss in Cherry ($20 at Macy's and Lord & Taylor). Clinique is offering a limited-edition shade, Moisture Surge Lipstick SPF 15 in Scarlet ($12.50 at Bloomingdale's); Chanel's Hydrabase Lipstick is available in Pirate ($21.50; available now at Saks Fifth Avenue and gloss.com); Delux lipstick now comes in Clovis ($18 at Sephora and Henri Bendel); and, for a more subtle blush, there's L'Oréal Glass Shine lip gloss in Chrome Red ($8.25 at all drugstores). Careful about standing too near the mistletoe.
Editor's Pick: Nike Air Yachats XCR
One of the joys of taking a spa vacation is how little you have to bring along (the Golden Door famously supplies T-shirts and sweats and recommends bringing nothing but a toothbrush, swimsuit, and footwear). Your carry-on could be as light as a briefcase -- if it weren't for those ten-pound hiking boots. This season, Nike has introduced the Air Yachats XCR, sturdy hiking sneakers with great tread. They are waterproof, breathable, half the weight of boots, and eminently packable. ($85 at Niketown, 6 East 57th Street; 212-891-6453.)